Always/Never - US nucear weapon safety/security documentary

Yokel

LE
On YouTube I found this three part documentary about the system developed for the safety and security of things like nuclear weapons. As an Engineering student I learned, pretty much as an axiom, that things such as cabling for power and signals should be segregated, or that events are usually the result of combinations of unlikely events - what has been called the Swiss Cheese Model.




This three part documentary by Sandia National Laboratories is fascinating - to the Engineer anyway! I understand that when the Polaris missile was first deployed, the warheads had some sort of metal wire in the 'pit' to absorb neutrons (???) and to prevent criticality, and in flight this would be extracted.
 
On YouTube I found this three part documentary about the system developed for the safety and security of things like nuclear weapons. As an Engineering student I learned, pretty much as an axiom, that things such as cabling for power and signals should be segregated, or that events are usually the result of combinations of unlikely events - what has been called the Swiss Cheese Model.




This three part documentary by Sandia National Laboratories is fascinating - to the Engineer anyway! I understand that when the Polaris missile was first deployed, the warheads had some sort of metal wire in the 'pit' to absorb neutrons (???) and to prevent criticality, and in flight this would be extracted.
At a guess Boron.
The reaction is:
10B + nth → [11B] *→ α + 7Li + 2.31 MeV.

Boron is used in control shims in reactors for that reason.

I cannot be sure, I was never cleared for nuclear weapons, but the physics makes sense
n.b. the number before the Boron (10,11) should be superscripts but ARRSE can't do that.The th after the neutron should be a subscript. I hope this adds clarity.
 

Yokel

LE
I am not even sure if Boron is a metal, but it does ring a bell. John Pina Craven mentions it in The Silent War, from his time as Chief Scientist at the US Navy Special Projects Office.

I wonder if people really appreciate how many things used every day are nuclear weapon or weapon system related?
 

endure

GCM
Boron is used as a moderator in nuclear reactors. It absorbs neutrons and stops reactors from going super critical.

The boron rods at Chernobyl were tipped with graphite in order to increase the efficiency of the reactor and reduce the damping effect of the boron.

When the boron rods were inserted back into the reactor in an attempt to shut it down the graphite tips briefly increased fission cracking the control rods and jamming them in the core. After that it was goodnight Irene...
 
Boron is used also for radiation oncology treatments.
Patients are given an IV containing L-p-boronophenylalanine-fructose and the tumor is exposed to a beam of epithermal neutrons. The drug is taken up differentially by the cancer cells. When a neutron strikes the Boron 10 atoms alpha particles destroy the cells from within. The beam exposure creates energetic alpha particles within the cell and there is a significant internal radiation gradient between the cancer cells and non-cancerous cells.
The beam of neutrons often comes from a research reactor. I think at one point Dr Trump of MIT created an accelerator for this purpose but as far as I know all treatments at MIT were done at their 6MW research reactor.

edited to add: Dr John Trump was President Trump's uncle. A brilliant electrical.engineer, professor of engineering at MIT, he made many advances in imaging and radiation oncology.
 
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